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posted on 05.28.09

Fashion illustrator Rene Gruau was born Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli on Fenruary 4, 1909 in Rimini, Italy.  Gruau relocated to Paris as a young man in 1924.  From the mid-1930s until the outbreak of World War II his graphic gouache and watercolor illustrations were featured in publications like Femina and Le Figaro.  During the German occupation of Paris, he lived in the free zone in Lyon and worked for Marie Claire. 

It is Gruau's work from the post war era that he is best known for; his supremely elegant and bold drawing style lent itself perfectly to the luxurious and romantic fashions of the late 1940s.  While reflecting on his work from this period, Gruau said "...there was a need for novelty in a society tested by war."

The pages of L'Officiel de la Mode from 1946 through the 1950s are filled with Gruau's sophisticated women; from editorial drawings and covers, to his iconic advertisements for Miss Dior perfume, and Rouge Baiser cosmetics.

To see more of Gruau's work, visit L'Officiel de la Mode's website,, where you can browse through every edition of the magazine from the twenties to the present.  The artist also published book titled Gruau (first published in English in 1994), which contains beautiful examples of his distinct illustration style.

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Christian Dior


Fashion Design